Xander tried to pull back but Wesley was insistent. He had to go to the hotel to get something and Xander wasn't going to be able to stay in his apartment alone this time. Wesley had said it was time for the young man to get out and remember what the rest of the world was like, now that he was getting better. The only thing that he'd allowed was the cloak that was now Xander's primary defense whenever he slipped into the second him. As they walked in, Xander continued to tug, and eventually got free, but Gunn stopped him before he made it out the door.
"Nope, sorry, but you need to be here for a few minutes," the dark skinned man said gently, leading him toward the front desk. "Sit at the desk and we'll be right out. We'll even let you pay for burgers on the way home."
"I doubt it," Wesley said from his office.
Xander pulled the cloak tighter around him, looking around the room. "Why is Oz here?" he asked quietly.
"Cordy got hold of him," Gunn said, sitting on the edge of the desk and looking at where the young man was sitting on the round couch. "He just got here a few minutes ago. Want to say hi?" Xander nodded so Gunn watched as he went over.
"Oz?" Xander asked softly.
Oz stood up and looked Xander over, then punched him, knocking him down. "Why?" he asked.
"I got there after it happened," Xander told him, wiping the blood away from his nose. "They tried to get me too."
"Then why are you here when they're not?"
"Because I ran through the bookcase with the former humans on it and they're allergic to ash." Xander stood up and gave Oz a hug. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "It's my fault."
"I've heard that already," Oz said, pulling back. "Explain."
"The little things that did ...that wanted to get me, to use me to come kill Angel."
"Why not Buffy?" Oz asked quietly, glancing around.
"Because I was going to be her torment when he lost his soul before," Xander admitted.
"Ah." Oz pulled Xander into his arms, giving him a real hug. "I'm sorry, about the fist and all, but I was emotional."
"I understand, I'd have knocked me around too," Xander admitted. He frowned and pulled his cloak tighter around them. "It stops the voices," he said when Oz looked at him.
"Voices?" Cordy asked. "I thought you pushed those away."
"I am the away," Xander told her, having switched after being punched. "Freaky, huh," he joked weakly.
"Very," Oz agreed, pulling back but not letting go. "You okay?"
"He had a few minor injuries when he showed up at my apartment," Wesley said as he walked over to them. "Oz, I'm sorry for your loss."
"S'okay, she wasn't mine anymore. We were just friends and email pals." He let Xander go, pushing the younger man onto the round couch. "Is everything done?"
"There's still the matter of the store," Wesley told him, sitting down beside Xander and pulling the young man against him so he'd quit rocking himself. "We've still got some concerns about Xander also, but mostly it's the financial arrangements."
"I don't want the store, I couldn't walk back into it," Xander whispered. "I'd remember then, I'd have to. They wouldn't go away."
"Shh," Oz said, sitting on Xander's free side and pulling him into a hug. "This majorly messed with him, huh?" Wesley nodded. "What do we do?"
"The probate's in a few days. I plan on going up on Xander's behalf. I've talked to the lawyer up there that Giles used and he said it was understandable. He's sent me paperwork for Xander to sign so I can handle this for him. You're more than welcome to come up with me if you'd like. I'm sure someone put you in their will."
Oz nodded. "Okay." He looked up the stairs. "Someone's coming."
"Fred?" Xander asked hopefully.
"Nope, Angel." They both watched as Xander ran to the desk and hid under it. "All right then," Oz said, looking at Wesley. "Is he really all right?" he asked quietly.
"No, we fear that somehow the demons tainted him. The type of demons that did this were very small, they swarmed in a sort of flying cloud, but they could tell about their victims."
"Are we in danger?"
"No, only the ones who know what they are really, or know their names, are in danger. They're forbidden from attacking anything that can't name them by the same curse that turned them." Oz nodded. "None of us here have that much information. I know enough to garner attention but not to get attacked." He looked at Xander. "He's the only one they might come after. If he were smaller, he could become one of them I'm afraid."
"What sort of help does he need?" Oz shifted closer. "My life doesn't lend itself to caring for the mentally unstable. I'm still traveling a lot."
"I understand," Wesley said, laying a hand on Oz's knee. "I've agreed to take care of him, and someone else here in the office seems to be a very big help to him. I'm hoping to make him normal sometime in the near future, but I'm not holding out real hope at the moment." He looked at Oz again. "I think I might have to file for help for him," he admitted quietly. "I can't work with Angel all the time and help Xander heal."
"SSI," Oz said, nodding. "That'd entitle him to help and drugs, plus money."
"That's what I've been looking into," Wesley said, smiling as Angel walked down the stairs. "Angel, thank you for getting up. Um, you might not want to go over there," he said when the vampire turned toward the office. "Where's Fred?"
"She'll be down in a few," Cordy called from upstairs.
"We found the runaway last night," Angel said. "She's helping her settle into a room." He smiled at Oz. "How are you, Oz?"
"Been better," he admitted. "You?"
"The same." Angel sighed and looked at the desk, where Xander was hiding inside the cloak. "What's with the cloak?"
"It blocks the voices from him," Wesley said quietly. "Some of the demon's essence must have leaked into him. We're not sure how yet but I am looking to see if there's a cure." He smiled at Xander, who was peeking out. "Would you like to come sit next to me again? You've said that the voices don't like me." Xander shook his head. "Are you sure? You and Oz could talk some."
Xander walked out and sat next to Oz, curling up so he could rest his chin on his knees. "Hi," he said quietly. "Please get away from me."
Angel looked worried but he did step away. "How's this?" Xander shook his head so Angel sat on the other side of Wesley. "Have you got a plan to deal with...the town?" he asked the former Watcher.
"I've talked with Rupert's attorney and explained to him that Xander was highly traumatized by the attack and seeing his friends like that. He's sent me papers to have Xander sign so I can go up and do the probate for him. Oz has agreed to go up with me."
"What about Giles' things?"
"Everyone left their effects to the remaining members of the group," Wesley said quietly. "Xander's most adamant that he doesn't want the store. I'm sure Oz is in at least a few of the wills still, so that might not be as much of an issue as Xander thinks it is."
Oz heard Xander mumbling something and turned to look at him, blocking out the depressing discussion next to him. "What was that?" he asked, touching Xander on the covered shoulder.
"If I kill him, the voices promised to go away," he said, looking at his friend. "If I do that, then they'll leave me alone to suffer in peace."
Oz shook his head, but Xander nodded. "No, Xan, they won't leave you alone. Just like the wolf will always be part of me, the memories won't ever go away."
"Not the memories, the voices." He looked up the stairs and grinned. "Fred!" he yelled, jumping up and running up to where she was, forcing her to sit down so he could sit next to her. "You're here."
"I am," she agreed, looking downstairs. "Good, you didn't stake Angel yet," she praised, patting him on the head like a dog. "I knew you could do it."
Xander gave her a pathetic look. "The voices are back."
"I know," she said, pulling him closer. "You can fight them though, that's what you guys do, you fight bad things. And those voices are very bad things."
"Xander?" Angel asked from in front of them. Wesley had told him what was going on and he wanted to check on the boy, and Fred who was still fragile herself. If Xander hurt her, he'd have to do something to the boy, insane or not.
Xander looked up and growled. "My Fred!"
"He's not going to take me away," she soothed. "Apparently the voices don't like me," she told Angel with a slight shrug.
"Oz wanted to see you before he left," he told the boy.
Xander flinched away from him, but from somewhere inside the cape, a stake came out of a pocket and he staked the vampire, right there on the stairs. Then he started to laugh and bang his head on the railing.
"Xander!" Wesley called, running up to get him before he could do something stupid.
"They said I had to!" he shrieked.
"It doesn't matter," Fred said, her eyes starting to tear up. "Can we do to him what they did to Darla?" she asked Wesley.
"I'll do my best," he promised, hauling Xander to his feet and down to Gunn's truck to lock him inside. He came back in to find Cordelia and Fred gathering up the dust. "I'm sorry," he said, running a hand through his hair to straighten it. "I had no idea he'd still be violent."
"A little more than violent there," Oz said dryly. "Want me to come back with you?"
"If you wouldn't mind," Wesley agreed, giving the younger man a faint smile. "I'm going to take Xander home and tie him in the bathtub or something." He nodded at Oz and caught the keys to Gunn's truck. "Tell me," he whispered as he walked past the other man. They walked out of the building, and both men stopped. The truck's door was open. "Xander?" Wesley called.
"Xan?" Oz called. He looked around carefully, then started to sniff the air. He frowned and walked back into the small garden outside the hotel, finding his former friend sitting under a small bush. "You okay in there?" he asked.
"They're gone," Xander laughed. "They're gone, just like they said, but they didn't leave me."
"Oh, crap," Wesley sighed.
"Good saying," Oz agreed, hauling Xander up and back to the truck. "In you get. We'll go make you sane."
"Nope, no more sane me," Xander sang lightly.
"Wow, good Dru impersonation there, Xander," Oz said, getting in so Xander couldn't get to the door. "You fully gone now?" Xander smiled and looked at him, then he pulled his friend over and kissed him. "Guess that answers that question," Oz noted. "Your place?" Oz suggested when Wesley hadn't started the truck.
"Xander, why did you do that?"
"Because the voices said I was your punishment and atonement," Xander told him, giving him a smile. "Yours and yours alone."
"So why kiss me?" Oz asked.
"I like you." Xander did it again, then he got Wesley too. "See?"
"Yes, I think I do," Wesley said as he started the truck. He wanted to be home, he really wanted to be home.
Xander flopped down onto the couch and sighed, taking off the cloak. "I need another one of these," he said, tossing it across the nearby table and lamp. He laughed when he saw the sour look. "You didn't know?" Wesley shook his head. "The voices said that was his reward."
"Oh, hell," Oz sighed, flopping down onto a chair. "Angel finally atoned enough?"
"The Powers were *very* pleased," he agreed, getting down onto his knees and crawling over to rest his head against Oz's thigh. "They're not happy with the rest of you though."
"I see," Wesley said. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"Because I told you not to take me near Angel. At the hospital, I was too sick to do what they ordered."
The phone rang and Wesley answered it. "Yes, Cordelia?" He sighed. "Thank you. No, Xander just said that the Powers ordered it somehow." He listened then looked down at Xander. "Xander, do you still have the gifts? The ability to look at anyone and see what they are?" Xander nodded, rubbing his cheek along Oz's seam. "And if we had a guest, could you tell me about them?"
"Sure. But you've got to train the next Knight."
"Knight?" Oz asked.
"Yup, the next White Knight. It's time for a new one," he confided. Then he laughed again. "They'd have to suffer, just like I did."
"Fred," Wesley groaned, then he listened. "Yes, that's interesting. Xander, is Fred the next Knight?" He got a happy nod. "Yes, it's her. I don't know. Then ask them. Doyle and Angel both had ways of getting to them, maybe one of them wrote it down. Oh, I see," he said after a pause. "Xander," he said as he hung up. "Did they tell you anything else about Angel?"
"He's going to be reborn." Xander nodded again. "Pretty little baby boy. All happy. This time someone should guard him better." He kissed Oz's leg. "He's not going to be yours though."
"That's good, 'cause I don't want kids," Oz said, patting the top of Xander's head. "So, why does Wesley have to atone?"
"Because he's betraying what he is." Xander crawled over and pressed his head against Wesley's stomach. "I can hear you," he said in his new sing-song voice.
"Xander," Wesley said, pushing him away. "What are you doing?"
"The little voices said you were the next warrior because you betrayed your kind," he explained in a hurt little boy voice. "You don't admit what you are."
"And what is he?" Oz asked.
"Demon-get," Xander said simply. "His daddy was one." He smiled at Wesley. "And I'm yours now!" He hugged his keeper. "Just like Dru was. She was Spike's atonement you know."
"No, I didn't," Wesley said uneasily. "Can you tell what sort of demon?"
"Incubus, minor little guy but in the middle ranks."
"Ah, I see." Wesley got free and hurried into the bedroom, taking the phone with him.
Oz patted his lap. "Come here, Xander, I'll pet you."
"Okay. You're very good at it, I bet you'll have a lot of fun with your wolf buddy when he comes to you."
"Xander, he's part of me."
"Na-uh. You can still talk to him. I bet he'd like ear scratches too." He grinned and kissed the fabric over Oz's cock. "Why aren't you happy?" he asked.
"Because you're not making sense," Oz reminded him. "And I'm not supposed to get happy for you. I like women."
"Me too. I think they're very nice and soft. Did you know Anya was the one who made Spike care so much about Dru?" Oz shook his head, probably to clear it. "She heard a prayer from Dru and decided that the girl needed someone tied to her to make her stop interfering with the workload. She told me that a few days before she died." He sniffled. "She died."
"I know," Oz sighed, stroking through the dark hair. "Wesley?" he called when Xander kept trying to get through his pants. "He's getting frisky."
"I've got handcuffs in the table beside the couch," Wesley called back.
"Huh, never figured him for that sort of guy." Oz grabbed the handcuffs and then his friend, hitching him to the table. "There, now you'll be safe."
"No one's safe," Xander said, then he started to giggle. "There's a bad man coming and Fred's gonna have to take him on."
Oz groaned at the laughter, covering his ears and humming so he wouldn't have to keep hearing it.
Wesley finally came out of the bathroom and sighed at the way the two men were trying very hard to irritate each other. "Stop it," he said gently. "I've made a few calls to some seers and we're in deep trouble."
"Xander said something bad was coming for Fred," Oz told him. "A bad man?"
"Yes, that's about right. He's here to take the atoning ones and make them all go away." He looked down at Xander. "And then he's going to use our bodies to recreate Angel as Angelus, releasing him to wreck his own version of Chaos."
"Who's coming?" Oz asked. "Or don't I want to know?"
"You don't want to know, but it will be after the probate in a few days. We'll have to start training Fred tonight."
"She already knows how to suffer well," Xander told him, giving him a smile. "Can I be free if he comes?"
"No," Wesley said harshly. "You started this all off, you've got to stay around to see it finished."
"Okay. Then I'll go see Spike. He needs the torment." He went back to his singing.
Wesley groaned and nodded at Oz to follow him into the kitchen. "Cordelia finally sorted out her vision, now that it's mostly happened. This is all about Fred becoming the next chosen warrior for the Powers. We do have a way to get Angel back, but she's going to have to ask for him without actually mentioning him by name."
"Who else would she get?"
"Unfortunately, before I started to really work with Angel, he had another helper, a half-demon who was atoning himself." He glanced at Xander. "If he comes back, I'm giving him the boy and running as far away as possible."
"Shouldn't you be training Fred? You're trained for that sort of thing," Oz pointed out.
"I'm going to go do that now. Gunn's coming over. Do you have a place to stay? I do have the fold out."
"Xander's already trying to jump me, I think I'll take the van," Oz said, then he left. He wasn't ready to try that path in life yet.
Wesley sighed and waited until his coworker got there, then he went back to the hotel.
Gunn sat down in the chair and looked down at Xander. "Why did he chain you up?"
"I was nuzzling," Xander said happily, leaning into the hand that Gunn put down to pet him. "Do I make a good kitty cat?"
"Yup, sure do," Gunn agreed, settling in to pet the young man, it kept him from singing.